Illustration: Al Margen
Parents have expectations, don’t they?
You want your child to be successful in some sort of way acceptable to you.
My parents, I think, wanted us to be competent in whatever we did.
They were very working class people despite my mother’s mother stepping out of that comfort zone and mixing with some people of a higher class we stayed where we belonged.
We had a piano, an old one, out of tune most of the time and an instrument my mother could play one tune on.
So as I must have appeared the most likely of we four kids I was sent to piano lessons. My first teacher was a young nun, Sister Sunshine, whom I loved having lessons with. (She is still alive and thriving in her 80s). But she was moved on soon after I started to like the piano and Sister Demon took her place.
Sister Demon was old and determined to remove every possible liking for the piano. She was an example of an old nun trapped in religious life, and therefore any child who ventured her way experienced her wraith.
Needless to say, piano lessons were nightmares and even though I persevered until grade four I was so glad to be away from that weekly horror.
Needless to say, my piano skill was very wanting. But it did provide me with a sort of musical foundation, which came in handy later when the time came for me to write some musicals.
The other thing my parents were keen on was sport. In particular tennis. At age eight I was sent to tennis lessons. My older brother was very proficient at most sports, tennis in particular and would often come home with a trophy from a tournament he had played in. I was not so blessed with the tennis gene. I struggled to keep the ball in play, and the only trophy I ever won was the day I entered a doubles tournament, and my partner and I were the only players in our division, and so at the end of the day, we won a trophy through default.
As time went along, I came to play sports I wanted to play and in which I demonstrated a degree of competence, like cricket and later squash.
I don’t think my parents were all that bothered by how incompetent a sportsman I was because in the end, the game of tennis, in particular, was all about hitting the ball back and that I could do allowing my opponent to feel superior when they smashed my returns for winners.